March in Aspen goes out like a lion |

March in Aspen goes out like a lion

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” March in Aspen came in like the proverbial lamb and is going out like a lion.

While the month’s snowfall won’t stack up to last winter’s powder pileup, it hasn’t been half bad, either, as anyone who’s been on the slopes lately can attest.

Snowmass was reporting 8 inches of new snow early Monday, and more accumulated during at least one brief, but furious blizzard. By Monday, Snowmass was boasting 63 inches of snowfall for the month of March, beating the historical average of 60 inches, but falling short of last winter’s 88 inches for the month.

Aspen Mountain was just shy of the 53-inch average for the month, with 49 inches and counting. But last year, a memorable 72 inches fell on Aspen Mountain in March.

Aspen Highlands was reporting 58 inches for the month, compared to 63 inches a year ago, and Buttermilk had 45 inches, compared to 51 in 2008.

With more snow expected Monday night and Tuesday, total snowfall for the month could close the gap between this year’s final March totals and last year’s tallies at Highlands and Buttermilk.

This winter, March snowfall at local ski areas is anywhere from 90 percent to 105 percent of average. Last winter, March snows were 105 to 147 percent of average, said Jeff Hanle, Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman.

“Last March was bigger than this month even though it’s snowed like crazy for the past week,” he said.

This winter, March brought two big dry spells ” no new snow fell for the first week of the month and March 12-22 produced a prolonged drought, as well.

Last winter, on the other hand, it snowed with abandon for three weeks, but no snowfall was recorded on March 22-29.

March has historically been the biggest snow month of the winter in Aspen and Snowmass, but that hasn’t been the case for the past few seasons, Hanle noted.

Last winter’s legendary snowfall set a record in both December and January at Snowmass, and 450 inches of snow there over the course of the winter was also a record.

This winter’s December snows fueled hopes for a repeat when Highlands picked up 102 inches for the month, compared to 96 inches last winter. Aspen Mountain recorded 97 inches in December, just shy of the 98 inches that fell the prior winter, while Snowmass had 96 inches, compared to 118 in 2007. Buttermilk tallied 72 inches for the month, compared to 84 in 2007.

But, January’s snowfall was well off last winter’s pace, as was February’s. Snowmass, for example, recorded 42 inches in February 2009, compared to 87 inches for the month in 2008.

Snow remains in the forecast Tuesday, the last day of March, according to the National Weather Service, which was calling for a 40 percent chance of snow during the day and accumulations of 1 to 3 inches Tuesday night.

April should start off with powder, even as the ski season winds toward its close. The weather service was predicting a 70 percent chance for snow in Aspen on Wednesday, with 2 to 4 inches of accumulation.

Closing day at Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands is Sunday. The last day of skiing at Aspen and Snowmass is Sunday, April 12.

There have not yet been any discussions about an extended season on local slopes, Hanle said.

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